I am a bit calmer about the election now. So much calmer, in fact, that goodness has come from it. I am trying to be more involved in organizations that do good things. And I figured I would share that with you. Here are ways you can get involved in organizations that promote social justice, women's reproductive rights, healthcare, undocumented citizen rights, religious freedoms, environmental policy, and more. It is my hope that far more Americans will volunteer with or donate to various campaigns in light of recent events. Personally, I have signed up for a few of these organizations and plan on donating money to many.
If you don't have time to read this massive post, here's a quick table of contents to the primary sections:
Earth Justice. Earth Justice has one of the best slogans I have heard: "Earth Justice. Because the earth needs a good lawyer." It's powerful, explanatory, and to the point. This nonprofit law organization fights for a healthy world and represents every client free of charge. Yes, FREE OF CHARGE. You can donate here. And if you're interested in knowing where you donation dollars go, Earth Justice aims to be as transparent as possible with that information. Check out their FAQs, annual reports, financial statements, etc. here.
350. 350 describes itself as "believe[ing] in a safe climate and a better future--a just, prosperous, and equitable world built with the power of ordinary people." The grassroots organization's three primary aims are to 1) keep carbon in the ground 2) help build an equitable, low carbon economy 3) pressure governments in to limiting emissions. They are located just about everywhere, even worldwide and there are tons of ways to get involved.
Lambda Legal. According to their website, Lambda Legal is a national organization that commits it's time and energy to "...achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV." They do so through education, litigation, and public policy work that aims to improve the lives of GLBTQ+ communities. Donate here or volunteer.
Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR supports freedom of religion, justice, mutual understanding, protection of civil liberties, and more. Yet I am on the fence about this organization. They have come under some scrutiny in the past (that surprised many and may be unfounded). But more importantly, I cannot find information on their views of the GLBTQ+ community. In the organization's core principals, they state they "[condemn] all acts of violence against civilians by an individual, group or state," and "oppose domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life." In addition, they support male/female equality. However I'd like to know if they extend that same thinking to those who do not fit within the gender binary or are not heterosexual*. Nonetheless, I felt it was important to include them on this list as they are actively working to create a dialogue between faith and community through a religion that is unfairly depicted in U.S. media. That certainly means something. You can volunteer or donate.
* I have actually reached out to CAIR to learn their stance on GLBTQ+ rights. If/when I hear back, I will update this post. Stay tuned.
Your local religious organizations. For real, even if you're not religious, call the mosques/churches/temples within your area, ask if they need volunteers for an upcoming events, and dedicate some of your time if you believe in that event and its purpose. If you are part of another religious organization, propose a mutual community outreach project between the group and your own church/temple/mosque/etc. Raleigh, NC will be hosting an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration this year. Metairie, LA started a monthly "Faith of Our Neighbors" event. It is a great way to create an interfaith dialogue and religious understanding within your community. And, of course, a wonderful way to give back.
Showing Up for Racial Justice. SURJ is specifically organized for white people who support racial justice. Their goal is urge whites to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice through collaboration with other racial justice efforts, building relationships, and political analysis to initiate for change. On their website, they explain, "Our focus is on working with White people who are already in motion. while in many activist circles, there can be a culture of shame and blame, we want to bring as many White people into taking action for racial justice as possible." I love that encourage accountability and ask a privileged group, who's voices are historically heard over that of minority groups, to stand up for marginalized people. Volunteer or donate here.
Campaign Zero. Campaign Zero was created by those associated with Black Lives Matter. The organization focuses on police reform based off a ten proposal plan. What I love about Campaign Zero is how blatant and transparent they are about their goals. There is no vagary. Volunteer, donate, download a general list of their proposals, or check out an in depth explanation of the issues they focus on.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This organization has been around for a long time. It is the nation's oldest, largest, and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, which is damn impressive. Currently they are focused on Civic Engagement, Environmental and Climate Justice, and Health. With a variety of far reaching programs, and associations in nearly every state (even Colorado!), it's easy to get involved. But if you cannot dedicate the time you can alternately donate.
Planned Parenthood. I feel like this is an obvious one, but I also believe it deserves an enormous amount of attention. Trump would like to defund Planned Parenthood and reverse Roe v. Wade. In 2014, federal funding was the largest source of income for Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. Defunding it would drastically change monetary allocation, cost of treatment, availability, etc. In addition, Planned Parenthood makes women's health, sex education, and testing accessible to millions of Americans. Even if you do not agree with their abortion policies, note that government funding does not go towards abortions (in fact, it hasn't since 1976). So please, please donate to Planned Parenthood. Help keep their costs low, their offices accessible, and women's health a priority within the United States.
Center for Reproductive Rights. This organization has been fighting for reproductive rights for twenty-five years. That is a pretty impressive feat. Now, more than ever, they need funding to continue to combat Trump's proposed reproductive policies. One can donate here.
Undocumented Peoples & Immigration
Border Angels. I would love to volunteer for this organization. They are an all volunteer, non-profit that advocates "...for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to the US-Mexican border." They do guided tours where everyday citizens learn about the US-Mexico border policies and history and place water along migrant crossing routes. I imagine citizens viewing the desert landscape on their own, while also taking in the history of the border and imagining the hardships of crossing, must resonate with many. What a powerful way to inform people. Border Angels also provides tons of community outreach in the San Diego county, such as free legal service for undocumented people.
It seems the majority of volunteers are located in California or must be within close proximity of the Mexico-U.S. border. So if you live near there and are interested, be sure to visit their volunteer page. If you're in the middle of the country as I am, that's not a very easy thing to do. But Border Angels takes donations and even earns money through the cash you spend at certain stores like H&R Block or Amazon Smile. Check it out.
National Immigration Law Center. This organization aims to defend and improve the rights of low-income immigrants in the United States through impact litigation, strategic communications on immigration issues, policy analysis, education, and advocacy. Donate here.
Native American Rights Fund. NARF provides legal assistance to tribes, organizations, and Native American individuals throughout the nation. They are a non-profit that "...focuses on applying existing laws and treaties to guarantee that national and state government live up to their legal obligations." I cannot imagine what a difficult job that must be. Donate here.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. DREDF works to advance the rights of people with disabilities and/or children with disabilities through training, education, legislative development, and legal advocacy. Donate here.
Southern Poverty Law Center. Southern Poverty Law came up multiple times during my college career. They have an impressive "Hate Map" that shows the locations of multiple hate groups operating within the United States (turns out there's almost 900!). The center works to expose hate, fight it, provide tolerance education, and seek justice for underrepresented peoples throughout the nation. You can donate here.
She Should Run. This organization aims to create a culture in which women and girls aspire to be public leaders. It is a non-partisan group, so whether your a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or other, it's a great cause to support. Worldwide, women make up about 20 percent of lawmakers on average, according to the New York Times. She Should Run believes, "...women of all backgrounds should have an equal shot at elected leadership and that our country will benefit from having a government with varies perspectives and experiences." You can join their campaign, nominate a woman (including yourself) to run for office, or donate.
Are you getting involved in other ways on the local, state, or national level? Or do you believe a certain organization should be added to this list? Please, let me know in the comments below.